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Joseph and the Fruit of the Spirit

Jun 08, 2007

The gifts of the Spirit are the tools that God has given us to function in our callings. Since each has a different calling, each one has tools that are specifically suited to him or her. But a tool is just a tool and deserves no glory in itself, no matter how good it is. Tools can be misused by people.

A biblical example of this is when Moses struck the rock the second time in Num. 20:8-11. He was supposed to speak to the rock, but he disobeyed. Even so, water came out of the rock to give drink to the people. Though God honored the authority and gift in Moses, and the miracle was "successful," this incident disqualified Moses from entering the Promised Land (vs. 12).

Jesus said in Matthew 7:22 that many will say in that day, "have we not prophesied in Thy name . . . and in Thy name done many wonderful works?" Yet these people are said to be disqualified from the Promised Land, because they had been "lawless." Jesus said, "Depart from me, you who work lawlessness" (anomia).

When men use the gifts of the Spirit without having the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, they are lawless. That is, they use their gifts in disobedience--that is, apart from submitting to the Holy Spirit. In the Pentecostal Age, we have seen many people who were like King Saul, who prophesied (1 Sam. 10:10) with good intentions but who had a lawless heart. I often contemplate how God trained David but not Saul. Both were prophets, but their lives took very different paths.

The lesson in this is that we should focus our attention on becoming like Christ, having the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Then if and when God gives us a gift of the Spirit, we will implement that gift as a sacred trust, rather than as a tool to build a personal kingdom or to gain wealth. I have noticed that Sonship requires a lot of personal training, while (by contrast) a Passover ministry only requires a few years in a denominational Bible College, and a Pentecostal ministry generally requires even less.

But let us look at Joseph, the "fruitful son" (Gen. 49:22). When he was 17, he had a couple of dreams, which indicated that he would rule over all of them. He was foolish enough to share this revelation with his family--evidence of his youth and perhaps some arrogance. It is obvious that he needed some further training to manifest the fruit of the Spirit. So God used his mistake to inflame his brothers, who then sold him as a slave into Egypt. There God could really begin Joseph's training, and He used wicked men and unbelievers as the primary schoolmasters.

Perhaps Joseph was much like us today. I think so, because human nature has not changed a whole lot since his day. I can imagine Joseph trying to use his spiritual authority to pray down fire from heaven upon Potiphar and anyone else who prevented him from enjoying the good life as a Son of God. I can imagine Joseph issuing spiritual decrees to end his prison sentence immediately. I can imagine Joseph by faith claiming deliverance and perhaps some extra cash for the prison commissary.

At first, Joseph did not understand that the Sons of God are not exempt from such rigorous training. They are not born with silver spoons in their mouths. They are not born to a life of ease. In fact, if they are not trained by God, we can generally assume that their calling is probably limited to the Passover or Pentecostal realm and does not include the ministry of Sonship that characterizes the feast of Tabernacles.

Joseph had an appointed time for deliverance. He did not know how long that would be, for such a revelation would have worked against his development of faith. Uncertainty is one of God's great faith builders. Suffering is one of God's great teachers that train us to believe, as Joseph later testified, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good" (Gen. 50:20).

One of the juiciest fruits of the Spirit is patience (Gal. 5:22). That is, once it is ripe. Before it is ripe, it is quite bitter. Patience requires time. It takes time to mature. Time has a way of putting things into perspective, because a timeline is a distance between two points. When we are immature, we tend to see things as a point in time or a very short line, rather than as a progression of time, because we have not lived long enough to see beyond our short experience.

Joseph entered Egypt on his 18th birthday, according to the book of Jasher. It would be 12 years before he was raised up as Prime Minister of Egypt to fulfill his calling. Twelve years is a short time for others, but a long time when we have to experience it for ourselves. And what shall we say about Moses' forty-year training period?

There are many prophets in the world today. There are fewer seasoned prophets. And not just prophets, but also the same could be said about all five of the ministries Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. Each requires a seasoning to take them from the bitter-fruit stage to the sweet fruit that can be eaten by others.

By the time Joseph was 30, he was an entirely different person than he had been at the age of 17. Prison life, which makes most people bitter, had made Joseph sweet. Faith made the difference. Wishful thinking and positive thinking would have made Joseph bitter after a few failures, but true faith always results in sweet patience. Patience is the evidence of faith.

I recall my own 12-year trial of faith from 1981-1993. I went through all the ups and downs that are common to all. I did everything in my power to end this trial early. I thought I had learned what I needed to know half way through the first year, even though one of the first revelations I received was that I would be following a 12-year Joseph pattern. At the end of the first 12 months, I thought the trial was surely completed, for certainly God would not make me go through an entire 12-year training period as Joseph did. That was inconceivable. Well, certainly my circumstances shifted after one year and became a bit easier. But nothing could ultimately shorten the time of training. Submitting to God simply made it less rigorous.

Finally, in November of 1993, a few days after the 12 years ended, the Lord set me free and allowed me to lead others into spiritual warfare in what was called the Jubilee Prayer Campaign (Nov. 21-29, 1993). It was a big responsibility, and during my training time, I had no real perspective or understanding of just how serious was that responsibility to "get it right." I had observed first-hand in my training years how lawlessness in spiritual warfare (led by others) could destroy people--even those with good intentions. I came to understand that my time of training was designed to prevent that from happening, because He cares about His people and does not want them to be led into disaster.

We are being trained as Sons of God to exercise dominion in the Age to come. The primary technique in God's school is on-the-job training. Thus, we are not simply waiting for the Age to come to begin exercising dominion. It has already begun. But no matter what level of effectiveness we reach, our exercise of dominion through our ministries will be imperfect until we ourselves are made perfect.

Currently, as believers we have the Dominion Mandate of Judah. As prospective overcomers, we are learning about the Birthright of Joseph and the Fruitfulness Mandate. Joseph is our key example in this, because he received this calling and is the primary type of Sonship in the Old Testament. Only when our training is in BOTH areas will we be fully equipped to reign by love and avoid the tyranny that seems normal in the rule of men.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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